*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Teens' use of the photo-sharing service Instagram has both risks and benefits, a new study out of Belgium suggests.
Researchers tracked Belgian teens' Instagram use for six months and linked frequent use to greater depression.
But Instagram also made the teens feel closer to friends, which in turn was related to lower levels of depression, the study found.
"This age group may be particularly at risk for the impact of Instagram, given the increasing popularity of Instagram in adolescence and given the increase of depressive symptoms during this stage of life," said study author Eline Frison. She's a doctoral student at the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leuven.
The study is scheduled for presentation in May at the International Communication Association's annual meeting, in San Diego.
While other researchers have studied the impact of Facebook on teens, Frison said her study is the first to examine how teens' Instagram use over a period of time affects friendships.
"If using Instagram stimulates adolescents' closeness to friends, it is beneficial in the long run, but if Instagram is not capable of that stimulation, it is harmful in the long run," Frison said in an association news release.
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.